My best friend said, “I just need to. . . .” and I didn’t hear the rest. She glanced off in the distance. As she laid out her self-improvement steps, the pitch of her voice dropped into the gravel in her throat. “I should. . . .” she said. “I have to. . . .” she said. It was the usual refrain of behaving better, complying with expectations better, fitting into a predetermined mold better, in the hope of feeling better about herself.
My heart ached. She doesn’t know what a beautiful person she is.
“It’s like you’re saying you’re not good enough,” I blurted. “You are a beautiful soul already.” It was awkward. A tear rolled down my face. I tried to find empirical words for what I knew without doubt to be fundamentally true. I saw in her face she didn’t believe my words, but she believed my feelings were strong on this point.
“I’m just working on being a better person,” she said. I was out of words. I put my hand on my heart to try to relieve the ache.
I should. I need to. I have to. Over and over I hear these words from women friends, acquaintances, clients, and especially students in whatever course I am also taking. I used to hear them from myself nonstop. The constant searching and striving to “be better” that can never succeed at that mask of a goal because it’s based on the internalized cultural and/or familial judgment that you are deficient. Lacking. Less than. Always and forever not good enough.
We are here to be ourselves first. The expert on who you are is you. When you are buried under years and years of programming by others, your own voice becomes too far down to hear. Others’ commands and opinions so dominate your internal soundscape that they seem like they’re yours. They disconnect you from your natural state of love. They tell you that love is an if-then statement.
Love is not “because.” Love just is.
If you don’t feel or believe in love for yourself, that’s okay. Few people in our culture allow themselves to accept the love that is within. We create a variety of stand-ins stamped “self-love” and talk around and about it a lot, but it’s taboo to simply accept it.
Each person has their own way of becoming aware of the love they already are. One way to get close is to allow the possibility that you are enough. Right now. As you are. You are a perfectly imperfect human with a beautiful soul.